Leader Chosen for 'Healthy Families, Healthy Planet' Initiative

January 21, 2010

10 United Methodist annual conferences to work with General Boards of Church and Society and Global Ministries in international family-planning project.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Katey Zeh, a native Georgian, has been hired by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) as the part-time consultant for "Healthy Families, Healthy Planet." She will serve as educator, advocate, and organizer for the initiative, which is a year-long effort to build a strong constituency of United Methodists to support increased funding from the U.S. government for international family planning.
The initiative is funded through a grant from the United Nations Foundation. The initiative entails a partnership among GBCS, General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee and Operation Healing Hope, a GBCS initiative on maternal health.
Zeh, who resides in Arlington, Virginia, will work with 10 yet-to-be-identified regional conferences in the United States. Her goal is to raise awareness among United Methodists in this country about the importance of international family planning and reproductive health. A multi-pronged strategy of education and advocacy will be implemented.
Zeh's work will be augmented by four persons from the Global South who will be selected by the GBGM to collaborate with her.
Zeh comes to the "Healthy Families, Healthy Planet" initiative from the Center for Health and Gender Equity. With past experience educating and mobilizing persons on issues related to maternal health, Zeh said she is enthusiastic about this opportunity.
Zeh holds a degree from Yale Divinity School. She is a contributing author to a soon-to-be published book, Gifts in Open Hands: More Resources for the Global Community. The book is a collection of worship materials.
Linda Bales Todd, director of the Louise and Hugh Moore Population Project at GBCS, announced the selection of Zeh to be "Healthy Families, Healthy Planet" consultant. Todd cited five key reasons for undertaking the initiative:
1.    Every minute a woman in sub-Saharan Africa dies from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

2.    Nearly all of the annual 536,000 maternal deaths worldwide occur in the developing world.
3.    More than 200 million women want to avoid pregnancy worldwide, but lack a family-planning method. Investing in family planning reduces unintended pregnancy and increases health.

4.    When a woman delays pregnancy at least two years after the birth of her previous child, she is much more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.

5.    By empowering women and men to make healthy decisions about how to space their children and determine their family size, family planning helps create healthier lives for the parents and for their children.
For additional information about "Healthy Families, Healthy Planet," contact Katey Zeh, kateyzeh@gmail.com.
Social justice agency announces 2010 legislative priorities
GBCS has set its 2010 legislative priorities for the U.S. Congress. The six priorities, rooted in United Methodist "Social Principles" and aligned with the denomination's Four Areas of Focus, run the gamut from tackling global problems to issues that are U.S.-specific.
Read 2010 legislative priorities on the GBCS website.
GBCS unveils 'prophet-driven economy'
The social justice agency is asking UMs to urge President Barack Obama to include the needs of the poor in his State of the Union address on Wednesday, January 27. GBCS has set up web pages through which you can email the President, urging him to make the poor a priority.
Read Prophet-driven economy on the GBCS website.
The articles are included in the GBCS newsletter, Faith in Action. The January 20 edition of Faith in Action is available on the GBCS website, www.umc-gbcs.org. You may subscribe to Faith in Action here.
The General Board of Church and Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church, which has more than 11 million members worldwide. The board's primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education and Leadership Formation, United Nations and International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the nearly 42,000 local churches of the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center at the United Nations.